NEW – FEBRUARY 3RD 2022 – THE CHINA DEBRIEF – ORIGINAL BRIEFING REVEALED

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Communist China Dictator Xi Jinping Calls for Global QR ...
U.S.-China Relations
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai is working to repair her relationship with national security adviser Jake Sullivan after a Situation Room confrontation in which she accused him — in front of colleagues — of undermining her in the press, people familiar with the matter tell Axios. The rare window on personal clashes inside the Biden White House also illuminates the tension between the president’s trade and national security advisers about how and when to execute aspects of their China strategy. Tai, formerly chief trade counsel for the House Ways and Means Committee, has taken pains to involve lawmakers and labor leaders as the Biden administration recalibrates the country’s trade agenda. A digital trade deal is an alternative to TPP and a way to show allies and partners the U.S. wants to engage in the region.China will suffer a greater loss than the United States from “tech decoupling” and trails its rival in key areas, Chinese academics have warned. In a report published by Peking University’s Institute of International and Strategic Studies on Sunday, researchers compared the development of China and the US in areas of competition between the two, including information technology, artificial intelligence (AI) and space and aerospace technology. “While the current US administration has not yet determined the boundaries of decoupling, certain consensus has already been formed in key tech areas such as chip manufacturing and AI,” the researchers led by institute president Wang Jisi said. The researchers said the U.S.’s decoupling strategy would also involve the forming of an “alliance of tech democracies” to completely isolate China.China has failed to meet its commitments under a two-year “Phase 1” trade deal that expired at the end of 2021, and discussions are continuing with Beijing on the matter, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi said on Tuesday. “You know, it is really clear that the Chinese haven’t met their commitment in Phase 1. That’s something we’re trying to address,” Bianchi told a virtual forum hosted by the Washington International Trade Association. In the deal signed by former President Donald Trump in January 2020, China pledged to increase purchases of U.S. farm and manufactured goods, energy and services by $200 billion above 2017 levels during 2020 and 2021. Through November, China had met only about 60% of that goal, according to trade data compiled by Peterson Institute for International Economics senior fellow Chad Bown.The U.S. House of Representatives plans a procedural vote on Wednesday on a bill aimed at increasing U.S. competitiveness with China and supporting the U.S. chip industry, according to a source familiar with the decision. President Joe Biden’s administration is pushing to persuade Congress to approve the bill, which includes $52 billion to subsidize semiconductor manufacturing and research, as shortages of the key components used in autos and computers have exacerbated supply chain bottlenecks. If the procedural vote succeeds in the narrowly Democratic-controlled House, the full chamber would aim to vote on the full bill on Friday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week said the 2,900-page bill, called the “America Competes” act, would “supercharge” investment in chips and boost U.S. manufacturing and research capacity, as well as advancing U.S. competitiveness and leadership.
 
Beijing Olympics
The United Nations and China have been accused of fabricating a “mutually convenient stalemate” after its top human rights body confirmed it will not publish a report on alleged abuses in the Chinese region of Xinjiang before this month’s Winter Olympics. The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said there was still no timeline to release its first ever report on the region, which has been in the works for three years and is believed to have been ready for publication for much of that time. The two have also been locked in years of negotiations over an inspection of conditions in Xinjiang by human rights chief Michelle Bachelet. But documents obtained by the South China Morning Post suggested China’s negotiating position had not changed since 2019, raising questions as to the nature of the talks.
Olympic athletes from multiple countries who want to show solidarity with the victims of the Chinese government’s human rights abuses have been quietly preparing to boycott the Opening Ceremonies, according to human rights activists who have been helping to educate and organize them. For several months, U.S.-based activists have been meeting with Olympic athletes from several Western countries to urge them to speak out on the Chinese government’s mass atrocities and severe repression of Uyghurs, Tibetans, Hong Kongers, and other groups inside China. The athletes, facing the threat of punishment from the Chinese government if they talk about human rights, have almost all avoided addressing the subject in public. The athletes have also come under pressure from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and its sponsors to avoid controversy. But if they don’t feel safe speaking out, the activists told them, skipping the Opening and Closing Ceremonies would at least deny the Chinese government the ability to use those ceremonies to legitimize its abuses and whitewash its crimes.
A People’s Liberation Army (PLA) regiment commander who was involved in the June 15, 2020 clash with India in Galwan Valley was chosen by the Chinese government to carry the Winter Olympic torch in Wednesday’s torch relay in Beijing. On Wednesday, the capital held a torch relay with 1,200 torchbearers. Among them, the Communist Party-run Global Times reported, was Qi Fabao, regiment commander who was later honoured by the Chinese military after he sustained a head injury in the Galwan Valley clash in June 15, 2020. China previously hit out at Western countries for “politicising” the games after the U.S., U.K., Australia and Canada said their officials would not attend the opening ceremony because of human rights violations in Xinjiang, although their athletes are participating in the Winter Games.
CCP Foreign Influence
As the United States, fatigued by decades of war and upheaval in the Middle East, seeks to limit its involvement there, China is deepening its ties with both friends and foes of Washington across the region. China is nowhere near rivaling the United States’ vast involvement in the Middle East. But states there are increasingly looking to China not just to buy their oil, but to invest in their infrastructure and cooperate on technology and security, a trend that could accelerate as the United States pulls back. For Beijing, the recent turmoil in neighboring countries like Afghanistan and Kazakhstan has reinforced its desire to cultivate stable ties in the region. The outreach follows the American military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years, as well as the official end of its combat mission in Iraq. That, along with the Biden administration’s frequent talk of China as its top national security priority, has left many of its partners in the Middle East believing that Washington’s attention lies elsewhere.
‘Use the past to serve the present,’ declares the website of the China Centre of Jesus College, Cambridge. It seems a sensible motto, until you know that it’s the first half of a maxim of Chairman Mao’s, and that the second half is ‘make the foreign serve China.’ The China Centre is directed by Professor Peter Nolan, a fellow of Jesus and an expert on China’s economy. In the 1980s, he studied China’s collective farms and edited a volume that referred to itself as ‘a preliminary attempt to construct a new socialist political-economic strategy for Britain.’ Nolan helped to advise Wen Jiabao, China’s former prime minister, on entry into the World Trade Organisation in 2001 and later appeared as an expert witness before the US Senate, arguing against a ‘strict insistence’ on ‘WTO rules in full’ for China. He ran workshops bringing together Chinese state-owned corporations and western multinationals. An influential communist scholar-official has credited him with a study of American defence companies, so that China can close the gap in military technology.
The European Union is seeking to boost its role in standard setting for key digital and green technology amid concerns that China and some corporations are wielding “excessive influence.” The European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, is poised to unveil a strategy as soon as Wednesday aimed at ensuring the EU punches its weight in the international bodies where many of the specifications of global technology are thrashed out. “The EU’s global competitiveness and strategic autonomy are at risk, as well as the ability of the EU to promote its values,” says a draft document of the strategy seen by Bloomberg. Companies selling into multiple markets want a one-size-fits-all approach to regulation and products. That has traditionally given the EU power — known as the Brussels Effect — to export its internal standards to companies and countries seeking to sell into the region’s internal market.
COVID-19
An extensive buildup of barriers along China’s 3,000-mile southern border is under way, according to public documents, official statements, and interviews with residents, ostensibly to battle COVID-19 but with likely long-lasting ramifications on trade and travel. The avowed purpose is to fight the spread of COVID-19 by limiting the entry of traders, workers, and smugglers. The Southern Great Wall, people on social media are calling it. State media outlets have dubbed it the Anti-Covid Great Wall. While some other countries try to transition toward living with COVID-19, China determinedly maintains a zero-COVID strategy, especially with the Beijing Winter Olympics starting this week. It does so not only through lockdowns and mass testing but also, increasingly, by walling off its neighbors.
A recent rise in the number of outbreaks signals trouble for China’s vaunted control measures, and the arrival of the highly contagious omicron variant has raised concerns about the safety of the Olympics. According to data from the National Health Commission compiled by Nikkei, there were about 2,500 communally transmitted cases in December. That is the highest monthly figure since the data first became available in April 2020. The second highest number, around 2,360 cases, was recorded in January. China’s zero-COVID policy is so named because it measures the number of consecutive days with no communally transmitted cases. But the recent surge is calling the policy into question: China has not had a day of zero COVID cases since mid-October. Chinese authorities have stopped aiming for a strict zero case count, which Gavekal Dragonomics, the consultancy, described as a “modification of China’s zero-tolerance strategy.”
Prominent Chinese economists are looking for a way out of China’s zero-tolerance approach to the pandemic, at least in select regions of the country, and perhaps not until after a national legislative gathering in March. They warn that, as coronavirus-control strategies between China and Western countries continue to diverge, China could find itself at a comparative disadvantage, socially, and economically. That divergence in policies is likely to become “unprecedentedly” great, resulting in “extreme pressure” on China this year, warned Liu Yuanchun, an economist and the vice-president of Renmin University in Beijing, at a virtual forum on Monday. “Compared with the unexpected impact brought by the pandemic in 2021, the shock felt in 2022 is likely to be stronger,” he said.
Hong Kong
Workers at the University of Hong Kong covered up a segment of a bridge dedicated to the Tiananmen dead on Saturday morning, weeks after the school’s removal of a statue commemorating the deadly crackdown attracted international condemnation. Metal panels were constructed to shield the part of Swire Bridge, located outside a dormitory, that bears the white painted slogan. The area was cordoned off by tape. The operation took place in broad daylight, without public notice, three days ahead of Lunar New Year, with students and staff away on break. Residents at Swire Hall painted the slogan on the bridge after the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989. A bloody military intervention ended months of student-led demonstrations on June 4 that year. It is estimated that hundreds, perhaps thousands, died in Beijing when the People’s Liberation Army cleared the protests.
The big banks of Wall Street rarely like to rock the boat in dealings with the China and Hong Kong governments. Too much is at stake to risk the ire of Beijing. So the recent actions on two sensitive issues by Bank of America and an Asian financial lobby group that counts Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and JPMorgan as members were striking. First, BofA’s cover was blown as the first of the Wall Street giants formally to review whether to relocate jobs out of Hong Kong in favour of Singapore, where pandemic travel restrictions (at least) are far less restrictive. It was a big moment in a story that has been two years in the making for Hong Kong, where global banks have grown weary of punishing quarantine rules that have made it far harder to recruit at the same time as record numbers of people are leaving the city.
The number of Hong Kong residents moving to Taiwan climbed to a record high, a sign of frustrations over a political crackdown and strict rules to curb the coronavirus. Some 11,173 Hong Kongers received permits last year to live in Taiwan, up 3.3 percent from a year earlier, according to new data from the National Immigration Agency in Taipei. That’s the highest figure in official data dating to 1991. Hong Kong is witnessing an intensifying exodus of locals and expatriates, one that started in 2019 amid pro-democracy protests that sometimes involved violence. The population of the city fell at a record pace in the 12 months that ended in June last year, officially putting it at about 7.39 million.
Taiwan
Taiwan’s team for the Beijing Winter Olympics will be at the opening and closing ceremonies after being told by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that it was required to participate. Chinese-claimed Taiwan has feared that Beijing could “downgrade” Taiwan’s status by putting its athletes alongside those from Chinese-run Hong Kong at the opening ceremony, a senior Taiwan official familiar with the matter told Reuters last week. Subtropical Taiwan, which has no winter sporting tradition and has never won a medal at the Winter Games, is sending four athletes to Beijing, the same number as the last Winter Games in 2018. Taiwan had said last Friday (January 28) that the team would not be at the opening or closing ceremonies, blaming delayed flights and tough anti-COVID-19 rules.
For months now, it’s been China — not Russia — posing the greatest challenge to Lithuania’s political and business decision makers as they’ve worked to resolve an unlikely confrontation that their government instigated. The spat began over the naming of the new, de facto Taiwanese embassy in Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius. “We see the threats and dangers which arise out of the expansionist policies of Communist China,” explained Mantas Adomėnas, Lithuania’s Deputy Foreign Minister, during an interview in Vilnius. “We wanted to curtail this … and support democracy in Taiwan.” Lithuania also pulled out of a group known as “17 +1,” established by China in 2012 to help open up Eastern Europe to Chinese businesses. Lithuanian officials told CBC News they expected reprisals, but the scale of China’s wrath caught them off guard.
Taiwan’s government is seeking to use a push to restructure global supply chains away from China to build more substantive ties with fellow democracies and counter Beijing’s attempts to isolate it internationally. President Tsai Ing-wen is eyeing what she calls a “new blue ocean” strategy for Taiwan’s international relations, which will require a more agile foreign policy focusing on areas such as technology and investment partnerships rather than only on traditional diplomatic channels and opening representative offices, according to three senior officials. “The president believes that we need to sharpen our focus on specific opportunities and develop deep ties there,” one of the officials said. They added that this could be in the areas of business and culture or “a strategic opportunity with a particular region.”
Xinjiang
Five years after China began the campaign of mass incarceration, cultural erasure and coercive labor, most Uyghurs abroad remain cut off from their families. Many kept quiet through the first years of the camps, afraid that contacting their loved ones would draw fresh persecution. But Uyghur exiles have since grown bolder — staging protests and filing legal complaints — in calling attention to their people’s plight and taking a stand against repression. Now, as the world’s gaze turns to Beijing for the Winter Olympics, Uyghurs, along with Tibetans, Hong Kongers, and Chinese human rights advocates, are calling for governments to boycott the Games and athletes to speak out against the Communist Party. More than 240 international nongovernmental organizations, many of them human rights groups, issued a statement last week urging governments, athletes and sponsors to not legitimize China’s abuses.
The lower house of Japan’s parliament on Tuesday adopted a resolution expressing concern over Uyghur and Hong Kong human rights, just days before China opens the Beijing Winter Olympics. The statement, however, stopped short of directly criticizing China and did not even mention the country by name. The phrase “human rights violations” in an early draft was also changed to “human rights situation” — striking a far more cautious tone than similar resolutions from the U.S. and Europe. “In recent years, the international community has expressed concern over the serious human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Tibet, Southern Mongolia, Hong Kong and other areas, including violations of religious freedom and forced imprisonment,” lawmakers said in a late draft seen by Nikkei Asia. “Since human rights have universal value and are a legitimate concern of the international community, human rights issues should not be confined to the internal affairs of a single country.”
As the Chinese government tightened its grip over its ethnic Uyghur population, it sentenced one man to death and three others to life in prison last year for textbooks drawn in part from historical resistance movements that had once been sanctioned by the ruling Communist Party. An AP review of images and stories presented as problematic in a state media documentary, and interviews with people involved in editing the textbooks, found they were rooted in previously accepted narratives — two drawings are based on a 1940s movement praised by Mao Zedong, who founded the communist state in 1949. Now, as the party’s imperatives have changed, it has partially reinterpreted them with devastating consequences for individuals, while also depriving students of ready access to a part of their heritage.
The China Debrief is a resource of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

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